Student receives one of three UW System awards

May 10, 2016
Hannah Helwig

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — University of Wisconsin-Platteville student Hannah Helwig was selected as one of three UW System students to receive the 11th Annual UW System Liberal Arts Essay Scholarship Award for her essay, “Dear Editor: It has to be both.”

Helwig, from Dodgeville, Wisconsin, has a double major in professional writing and international studies and a double minor in German and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She is the first UW-Platteville student to win the $2,000 UW System award.

“Receiving the 11th Annual UW-System Liberal Arts Essay Scholarship Award was a surprise and an honor,” said Helwig. “This is the first time I’ve entered a writing contest like this, but I think I was well prepared, thanks to the writing classes I’ve taken here and my experiences writing for the student newspaper, the Exponent. I transferred to UW-Platteville, and what I most appreciate about my education on this campus are the many passionate and knowledgeable professors whose classes I have taken and the unique internship and involvement opportunities that were possible during my time here.”

Each year, the UW System Advisory Group on the Liberal Arts sponsors the essay contest, which is open to any UW System undergraduate student in good academic standing. The contest is one of many activities designed to build and celebrate the UW System’s Liberal Education initiative and encourage debate about the type of knowledge, skills and values needed to prepare students for their future roles as citizens and leaders.

This year, the writing prompt asked students to write a letter to the editors of their hometown papers that staked out and defended their positions on the debate of the value of a liberal arts education. All submissions had to be original essays that were 1,000-1,250 words in length.

Helwig and other UW-Platteville students submitted their contest entries to the UW-Platteville College of Liberal Arts and Education dean’s office at the end of January 2016. In February, the College of Liberal Arts and Education’s College Awards Committee selected Helwig’s essay for the $250 UW-Platteville award and then forwarded the essay to UW System for a chance to win the $2,000 award.

In early May, Helwig was notified by Raymond Cross, president of the UW System, that her essay had been chosen for the UW System award by a special UW System committee composed of deans, faculty members and administrators from the campuses and UW System administration for its creative engagement with the writing prompt.

In his letter, Cross noted, “Congratulations on your award, and best wishes for what will undoubtedly be a future filled with further accomplishments. As President of the University of Wisconsin System, it fills me with pride to see the shining examples of students like you navigating so thoughtfully the pathways to success available at each of the System’s institutions, and I know your campus shares that pride.”

“It is an honor to congratulate Hannah for receiving the college award as well as the UW System award,” said Dr. Kory Wein, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Education at UW-Platteville and chair of the College Awards Committee. “The members of the college selection committee were very impressed by Hannah’s essay. It was extremely well written and demonstrated the type of intellectual ability and understanding of the liberal arts that our college strives to instill in every university student.”

“Hannah is one of the most conscientious and culturally astute writers I’ve taught in many, many years,” said Dr. Terry Burns, chair of the Department of Humanities at UW-Platteville and one of Helwig’s advisers. “I'm not surprised she won a system-wide award. As a double-major and double-minor in liberal arts fields, this is simply who she is.”

“Hannah’s work at the Exponent this year demonstrated that she embodies the spirit of the liberal arts education,” said Dr. Mary Rose Williams, professor of media studies in the School of Business at UW-Platteville and adviser to the Exponent. “A rookie reporter, she was tossed into the deep end of student journalism, pursuing complex stories of far-reaching significance. She not only brought her critical faculties to bear, she sought out and acted on constructive feedback, and in the process, produced a series of well-written and -researched articles on the university’s budget woes, as well as the impact of the budget issue on general education at the university.”

Written by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, 608-342-6191,


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